"87 percent of adults age 65+ want to stay in their current home and community as they age. Among people age 50 to 64, 71 percent of people want to age in place." - AARP Survey
Many people want to stay in their homes as they age. And if you are working with your parents, grandparents, or other loved ones, they may have addressed the topic with you. Of course, for many of us, this kind of communication isn't as explicit as stating they want to age in place. More often, children will hear their parents say "I'm never going anywhere" or "You'll never put me up". Aging in place isn't for everyone. And, as we addressed in an earlier post, it's not an accident. If your loved ones are serious about aging in place, they need to plan ahead. Here are some questions to ask as you approach the topic with your aging loved ones.
1. Is your home safe to stay in? Based on their health and mobility, is the home accessible? Are there stairs inside or outside the home? Of course, you may know the answers to these questions. But take a quick look around. If your loved one uses a walker or wheelchair, can they get around their house? What if their mobility became limited and they became dependant on a cane, walker, or scooter? Things change; health changes. So even if the stairs aren't a problem now, they could become one. By asking these questions, you can help them access their own situation.
2. How will you get around? If you are at home, how will you get to the grocery store? What about church or the doctor? Even if your loved one can still drive right now, what if they are unable in the future? They need to have plans about how to get their needs met and get to their appointments. Whether it's public transportation or relying on you or others for rides, there needs to be a plan in place for transportation.
3. Who will take care of the yard work, snow removal, and/or house cleaning? What about taking the garbage cans down to the curb? Maybe these items are already being outsourced or they're lucky enough to have young grandchildren to take care of the heavy lifting. But if the chores aren't taken care of, who will do it? Can they afford to pay someone? What are the plans for winter? Ice and snow can be very dangerous, so making sure there's a plan in place for removal is important. It's really all about the plans in this case—these chores need to be done, and often that means paying for the help.
4. What will you do in case of an emergency? Cell phones, body alarms, and more can help fill in the gaps. But they can only do so much. Is there a neighbor or loved one nearby? How long would it take them to get there? If it's a couple, what if something happens to one of the pair? Who can they rely on to help? Depending on health and mobility, it may be necessary to have someone checking in on them daily or multiple times per day. Home health care companies can help, but if there aren't pressing health issues, daily visits may not be necessary. Figure out who will check in, how often, and make plans for what will happen in the event of an emergency.
5. How will we know it's time to find another option? This is such an important piece of the conversation to have BEFOREHAND. When it comes to time, it can be too stressful for anyone to think clearly. It can be really helpful to come up with some boundaries that everyone can agree to. In the best scenario, if they can and want to stay home, that is great. But injuries, disease, and overall health changes! What's the contingency plan? Think through some situations and what will happen if Mom can't take care of Dad anymore or someone falls. Afterall, planning can make all the difference.
We hope these questions help facilitate a healthy conversation. Aging in place is popular, and nice for so many people. Others may just not be able to stay home or need additional help. By talking through it, you can have a good idea of where your loved ones stand and what's possible. We'd love to help you plan. If you're not sure about estate planning or what kind of help your loved ones can afford, give us a call. We'd love to look at it and help you as you reach this phase of life.